368 HISTORY OF PERSIA
difficult to analyse. Endowed with splendid physique, a
fine appearance, a voice of thunder, dauntless courage and
resolution, he was a born leader of men, and with his
battle-axe he hewed his way to fame. He had a marvellous
memory and abundant virility and he proved himself a
great tactician. Generous at first, and, as we learn from
Abraham of Crete, ready to overlook errors, he became
a miser after securing the spoils of Delhi. Moderate in
his early campaigns and averse from needless bloodshed,
he was possessed later on with an unquenchable thirst for
blood. As Mirza Mehdi states, the repulse by the Lesghi-
ans and, still more, the blinding of his son drove him into
the awful excesses by which he is remembered.
Bred a Sunni, he showed intense hostility to the Shia
religious leaders and confiscated the huge revenues which
they enjoyed. He attempted to reunite Islam by the
abolition of the Shia doctrine, but was wholly unsuccessful.
Later he dreamed of founding a new religion, and with
this end in view had translations made of both the Jewish
Scriptures and the New Testament.
As an administrator, too, he failed completely.
Although ready to punish injustice with severity, he did
not realize that in order to secure his position he must re-
store content and prosperity to Persia. He remitted three
years' taxes in celebration of his victory in India, but
afterwards, with incredible folly, cancelled this decree and
ordered the collection of every farthing. Han way describes
how his couriers were a curse to the country and how
villages were everywhere fortified to resist their entrance.
Indeed, the whole of victorious Iran was laid waste as if
by an enemy and the population disappeared. To the
millions hoarded at Kalat other sums were added, and all
jewels were seized on the pretext that they must have
been stolen at Delhi. Had Nadir been wise enough to
unlock the doors of his treasure-house and support his
army on the millions acquired in India, prosperity would
quickly have returned to Iran and his dynasty might have
Sir Mortimer Durand has pointed out the curious
similarity between Nadir, the kst great conqueror in Asia,